Apr 14, 2010

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

How to Train a Dragon – This movie was really good! It was just pure fun in a very innocent and genuine way. When I first saw the posters for this I thought it looked bad. Another 3D cartoon, everyone likes dragons, gonna suck. But I heard it was really good, so we saw it, and it really was! In a way its a standard story – the boy who doesn’t fit in with his people and makes his dad ashamed, but finds his own way and is a hero. But at the same time, they (well, the book) create a really cool world. Narrow in scope – one town of vikings, but with this very cool variety of dragons that plague them. A totally well developed situation to plunk the audience down into. Sure, the plot doesn’t hold any surprises, although I have no idea why I didn’t see the super obvious dragon/people pairings coming. But outside of that, the movie is just a whole lot of fun. Very cute, very funny, the dragon flying sequences are really cool. If I was a 10 year old boy I’d spend the next week trying to fly my dog around the living room. As it was I took a couple sharp turns driving home. We saw it in 3D, I’d say that’s unnecessary. I had heard it was done well, and just because it’s a cartoon it’s done better than a 2D live action shittily converted. But I wouldn’t say it added much to the movie, I would have been happy to see it in 2D and save a few bucks. So, see it in 2D, or even at home, but definitely see it, it’s great.

Precious – Finally saw this. There’s an awful lot of meta going into this. I know it’s horrendously sad, I know the big sad events, I know monique wins an oscar, I know the young girl is seemingly made for the part. I spent a good portion of the movie not really happy with it. It IS horrendously sad, and for a long time it seems to have no purpose but to beat you down with its sadness. And while, yes, it’s important to know that sadness exists, we shouldn’t hide ourselves from the reality of many peoples’ lives, at the same time I don’t really need to see 2 hours of it, it’s overbearing. But, naturally, the movie is more than that. It’s essentially a kind of rising from the ashes, making yourself better kind of story. Against an impossible life, she tries to make the best of it. It’s nice, and ever so slightly inspirational. You can’t help but wonder how many people are able to make such a recovery, but it’s nice to think it’s possible. In that respect, if the movie is meant to expose us to this reality, it undoes its own work by giving us a fantasy of escape. It’s also largely about mentors and teachers. Certainly if you are someone with that position in life, it will give you a feeling of higher purpose, an ideal to reach for. As for the acting, I was impressed with the young girl, I, very cynical, said to myself that they happened to find a very fat very young, very sad looking girl, presto bingo she plays the part. But to her credit she brings more than that. There is a little more dimension to her than just the abuse, which is certainly important to her story. Monique, too, I thought can’t be that great. And for most of the movie she was just a shitty person. People get points too easily, I think, for being fucking horrendous human beings. But then it became clear she won that oscar for her last scene. I’m not sure she deserves an oscar, but she certainly deserves respect. The movie is still sad, it’s not something you need to see more than once, but it is worth the once.

Fantastic Mr. Fox – Ths movie is pretty cute, but there is something not quite right about it. It’s very charming, the stop motion animation is cute. The story is fun, the voice acting is fun, it’s all very likable. But, it is also pretty boring. It’s not a long movie but it felt like it just kept going. I’m not sure what about it should have been better, on paper it is everything it should be. For some reason it just didn’t click for me. Still very enjoyable, just not awesome.

Street Fighter; The Legend of Chun-Li – Yeah yeah, what do you expect. Some halfway okay choreography held together by the threads of a story in a 20 year old video game with all of 200 words for its plot, 25 words if you only count Chun-Li. I’m surprised by how it takes from the game (her motivation, bison’s organization), but modernizes it a lot. Does away with every good guy from the game, but keeps the bad. Not much to say about it, it’s exactly as you expect. Not totally sure why Michael Clarke Duncan is in it, sadly not surprised to see chris klein or that guy from that cop show playing bison. Everyone else is unknown to me. It’s an okay thing to have on while you are doing other things, I guess. Don’t run or anything, though. It’s definitely not good, it’s just not insulting. This is why netflix needs a “meh” star level.

Where The Wild Things Are – Yikes, this movie is kind of scary. When we all heard this was going to be a movie, we said that’s stupid, there’s not remotely enough there to make a movie. Turns out that was true, it was really just the framework for an entirely different story. Then we saw the trailer, and we were all blown away by the awe and childlike wonder distilled down into a pure form. The movie, sadly, never even approaches the trailer, let alone surpass it. A few mundane things before the main point – the wild things are kind of muppetlike. I understand this choice completely, I would have hated to see them CG, but, they don’t quite work as they are. They look a little too much like big head costumes, like disneyland characters. But I was mostly okay with it. The music is a big part, as featured in the trailer, and I guess it does a decent job. But due to my reaction to the movie as a whole, the music ended up feeling forced and overly indie or wonderous. The movie is actually about a fucked up kid. Not an evil kid, looks like he’s got reasons to be fucked up, dad is gone, mom is busy, he’s sensitive and lonely and sad. Hell, I probably could have been that kid if I didn’t have the parents I had. But, the wild things are just his fantasy framework for dealing with his issues. And he has some serious issues. He seems borderline autistic, honestly, with all the rage and dependency and fantasy involved. The wild things act out aspects of his personality and that makes those characters very unlikable, as most of the aspects of his personality are negative. It’s a very mean movie, it’s a very hurtful movie. I wonder maybe if you are the parent of a troubled child, or if you were one yourself, this movie might bring to life in an utterly unique way how you felt. But I am neither, so the movie was either troubling, or just annoying, which is kind of sad in itself. After writing this, I went and watched the TRS review, and each of those 3 boy connected with this boy in a very direct way. Maybe I’m just not a normal boy, I don’t know, it didn’t resonate with me like it was supposed to.

Ben-Hur – Here’s an epic I really should have seen by now. Until the last 30 minutes, this movie is actually really good. Judah Ben-Hur is a jewish leader of some kind, runs afoul of rome, goes to slavery for a while, gets out, becomes a citizen, wins a big race. All happening during the lifetime of jesus. All of that story I just said is really well done. The movie has a great feeling, acting is pretty solid. Heston sort of has this shatner thing of conveying emotions via dramatic poses, but besides that he’s good. I didn’t like his lady friend, she was too cheesy (though I’m sure it was fine in the 50s), but everyone else was very good. The story itself is very good. Jesus only appears (and never his face) in passing. Things are happening while jesus is happening, it’s not about him. Which is just awesome. There’s no miracles or holy business, things are just happening in that period. The famous chariot race is cool enough, the whole story is cool enough. THEN the last 30 minutes happen. Sigh! It begins at the sermon of the mount, which is actually really good because Judah is bent on revenge and refuses to hear the sermon, which is of course famously about turning the other cheek. I thought this was wonderfully subtle. Then the movie gets worse when the lady friend has to belabor this point to judah and to the audience. Then the movie gets really bad when it starts to focus on the crucifixion. Then the movie gets horrendous when, spoiler alert for a 50 year old movie, judah’s mother and sister are cured of their leprosy by the magical jesus rain after his death.  God dammit! The move was so good until now! And jesus wasn’t magical, he was just historical, things that absolutely could have really happened. But noooo, they had to go and have fantastical jesus pee from heaven wash away their disease. Freaking bullshit! But really quite good besides that. Next up we have to see the prequel – Ten Commandments!

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